Lipschultz Center for Cognitive Neuroscience

The Lipschultz Center for Cognitive Neuroscience is a multi-disciplinary hub dedicated to understanding the neural circuit mechanisms of higher cognitive function, and applying this knowledge to the diagnosis and treatment of a wide range of neurological and psychiatric disorders characterized at least in part by cognitive dysfunction in humans. The cutting-edge research conducted by Lipschultz Center faculty reflects the intersection of several streams of investigation at the heart of modern neuroscience.

  • Recent years have seen an explosion of new technological advances that allow monitoring and manipulation of the activity of brain cells at previously unimaginable scales. We are now able to discern the involvement of very precisely defined neural circuits in behavior in ways that were not possible even five years ago. Moreover, it is possible to do this by integrating data across species, from rodents, to non-human primates, to humans.
  • Comparative neuroanatomy and neurobiology, using high-resolution neuroimaging as well as quantitative microscopic analysis of central nervous system ultrastructure, have illuminated the relationship between structure and function in the brain across the evolutionary scale. This has pointed to the critical importance of, for example, nonhuman primate models in cognitive neuroscience given the presence of anatomic specializations, along with uniquely expressed genes, in primate brains in circuits involved in higher cognition.
  • The origins of many neurological and psychiatric disorders in humans are found early in development, with early perturbations in the brain setting the stage for dysfunction later in life. Thus the study of the circuit mechanisms of cognitive function in the context of development is vital to understanding how diseases of thought and cognition occur and how they might be reversed during treatment.
  • Neurodegenerative diseases are characterized by extremely prolonged prodromal phases, where the disease process is active perhaps for several decades while cognitive and other behavioral symptoms are either subtle or nonexistent. This points to the extraordinary plasticity and resilience of the brain as it maintains function in the face of compromised structure, but also poses a challenge for understanding disease processes and developing interventions that are effective in heading off damage to neural circuits before it becomes entrenched.
  • Beyond neurodegenerative disorders, most psychiatric conditions, from autism to depression to schizophrenia, among many others, involve prominent cognitive impairments which have remained understudied by the field.

Research

Research in the Lipschultz Center spans a wide range of experimental models, including mice, rats, non-human primates, and humans, at all phases of the lifespan from early development to advanced aging. Our projects include fundamental research on circuit mechanisms of behavior, the study of neural circuits in animal models of neurological and psychiatric disease, and the characterization of mechanisms of dysfunction in humans with impaired cognition because of disease.

Members of the Center are engaged in numerous research projects, including:

  • Technology development for neuromodulation and activity visualization in defined neural circuits in the rodent and non-human primate brain
  • Behavioral analyses of mouse and rat models of autism and Parkinson's disease with a focus on understanding the impact of specific genetic influences on neural circuits involved in decision-making
  • Determining the genetic and non-genetic mechanisms that predispose some older humans to develop cognitive impairments, while others remain cognitive intact despite advanced ages
  • Identifying the relationship between synaptic damage and cognitive impairment across a range of conditions including Alzheimer's disease and other dementias as well as schizophrenia and other psychotic disorders
  • Understanding the nature of the neural code for many different forms of cognition (e.g., attention, decision making, reward/fear valuation, compulsivity, and behavioral inhibition), leveraging recordings from rodent, non-human primate, and human brains for complex computational modeling through advanced machine learning approaches
  • Defining the role of non-neuronal cells, including astrocytes, oligodendrocytes, microglia, and endothelial cells, in influence cognitive function in health and disease.

Read more about this groundbreaking research under way in the following Lipschultz Center laboratories: Priti Balchandani, Mark Baxter, Denise Cai, Joseph Castellano, Uraina Clark, Kirsten Dams-O’Connor, Rita Goldstein, Ki Goosens, Xiaosi Gu, George Huntley, Yael Jacob, Helen Mayberg, Hirofumi Morishita, Muhammad Parvaz, Giulio Pasinetti, Kanaka Rajan, Abha Rajbhandari, Erin Rich, Peter Rudebeck, Scott Russo, Ignacio Saez, Daniela Schiller, Tristan Shuman, and Andrew Varga.

Patient Care

The Mount Sinai Health System provides state-of-the-art and compassionate care for individuals with a neurological or psychiatric condition that involves cognitive dysfunction. Please see our patient care pages for further information and how to see a Mount Sinai specialist.

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